Published by Balzer + Bray on October 24th 2017
A banished princess.A deadly curse.A kingdom at war.
Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.
Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.
But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.
With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?
On many nights in Wil’s childhood, the queen would hold her and rock her to sleep, and she would whisper, “Death itself is no match for you. The day you were born, it shrank away in fear.”
Oh, Wonderlings. I am so woefully disappointed. The Glass Spare was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, ever since someone said it was Shatter Me 2.0 with a villain love interest.
VILLAIN. LOVE. INTEREST. Do you see, dear reader? I was ensnared. I needed it more than I needed to breathe, or so I thought. Unfortunately, The Glass Spare didn’t live up to expectations, and I was left clutching my kindle in one hand and my heart in the other. Was this it? I kept thinking. After a month of adult fantasy, is this how my love for YA ends? In shambles, sitting on my bed on a dreary summer’s morning, my head full of cotton? The question that felt like a ticking bomb in my cavernous, empty chest: Had I outgrown YA, or had YA outgrown me? But I suppose that’s a question to be answered another time.
The Glass Spare is, in all its glory, an interesting premise. DeStefano does, in that magical way of hers, write an interesting story, with interesting characters and interesting world. That’s where it ends: interesting. That’s the book summed up in one word: interesting. Or two: just so. It left a lot to be desired, though.
Introduced as a steampunk/fantasy mash-up, The Glass Spare revolves around a handful of characters, and one plot. Wil, the only daughter of a king of the empire, has grown up in the shadows of her older brothers, raised instead to become the king’s most reliable spy. Although she has three brothers, Wil is only close to two: the heir, Owen, and the scientist Gerdie. I lived for these interactions, Gerdie and Wil vs Owen and vice versa. DeStefano really brought to life the complicated relationship of siblings, and the close bond that comes with loving someone unconditionally.
As the only one able to sneak in and out of the palace unnoticed, Wil is also the most reliable person Gerdie can send to pick up supplies for whatever machine or experiment he is working on. Her sense of adventure is, rivaled only by her own mother’s, gave The Glass Spare that whimsical tone to it.
But she was lying. Her stomach was filled with perfumes and the old woman’s words. The distant songs and giggles and murmurs of the camp had climbed under her skin, raising gooseflesh. She wanted to fall back into it. She wanted to run off into the world with the troupe and never, never return.
It’s during one of these excursions that Wil is attacked by an angry vendor, and her power manifests for the first time. Whatever Wil touches, as long as it’s living, will crystallize until that person, or thing, is dead. When things take a turn for the worst (as if discovering you can kill people with a single touch isn’t enough to send a teenager into a flurry of panic) she is banished from her kingdom, throwing Wil into an adventure she hadn’t anticipated.
And this is where things went downhill for me. Not the adventure, per se, but the new character introduced, the love interest: Loom. Son of a rival kingdom, a banished prince himself, Loom is trying to lead a revolution. Banished for the attempted murder on his father’s life, he has no allies except his ex-fiancée and her young son, but discovering Wil’s power means having one weapon in his arsenal that his father does not have: the power to kill with a single touch.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Loom. There’s nothing that sticks out to me as superfluous or incredibly annoying, which I guess is the problem. For an antihero/enemy love interest, Loom is utterly forgettable, making Wil and Loom’s romance incredibly forgettable. I can’t remember where the relationship transcended from dislike to love, and the feels-bomb didn’t work out as planned, making the last 20%, you guessed it, utterly forgettable.
The best way I can describe The Glass Spare is ‘meh.’ Nothing really stuck out, but I liked it well enough and, besides the obvious, I really enjoyed the characters. The queen, Wil’s mother, struck me as an incredibly important character. She loves her children more than she loves her husband, but it’s all overshadowed by her OCD, her fretful need to tap surfaces and count under her breath, terrified that if she counts wrong, mis-taps the pattern, something terrible will befall her children. Particularly Owen, who spends a lot of time, as the heir, traveling the world and making connections. The queen is the only character I really felt for, and I wish we saw more of her.
The princes, individually, were also very interesting. Owen as the good son, the clever heir: he had the charisma, the personality, the good hair. Gerdie, and his ever working brain, who Wil and Owen love and protect fiercely. The sudden explosions caused by his experiment added a good dose of comic relief to the novel. Even the other brother, whose name I forget, is interesting: he’s mean, jealous of his brothers’ and sister’s friendship, but is also a tortured soul in his own right.
Overall, interesting (there’s that word again!) premise, but didn’t quite live up to its promise.